Fearfully and Wonderfully Made!
Delivered before the Medical Students of the several Colleges of Philadelphia, on December 6th, 1857, by William Bacon Stevens.
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14
"Your hands shaped me and made me. Will You now turn and destroy me? Remember that You molded me like clay. Will You now turn me to dust again? Did You not clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in Your providence watched over my spirit." Job 10:8-12
Man, as he is the crowning work of creation, deserves a deeper study than any other of the works of God.
The Earth, beautiful as it is in form and structure, and garnished with all kinds of loveliness, is to endure but for a little while, and then be destroyed by fire.
The two great lights which rule the day and the night, are to shine only for a season, for the time is fixed in the future, when "the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood."
The overarching sky, glittering with countless stars, has its appointed period of duration, and then it shall be rolled together as a scroll, and pass away, to give place to that new Heaven and new earth wherein dwells righteousness.
But man shall outlive earth, and moon, and sun, and sky, for he only, of all created things or beings in the material universe, is endowed with immortality; and hence the expressiveness of that remark of Sir Thomas Brown: "While I study to find out how I am a little world (a microcosm), I find myself something more than the great one." Most strikingly are some of the leading features of the anatomy and physiology of man brought out in the text; thus Job declares that the body is the workmanship of God, in the words, "Your hands shaped me and made me." He declares of what material this body was made in the words, "Remember that you molded me like clay." He states the leading outlines of Anatomy in the words, "Did you not clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews?" He indicates the great vital law of Physiology in the words, "You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit." He shows the decay and death of this body in the words, "Yet, you do destroy me, and bring me into dust again." And he teaches the fact, that this wonderfully made body is inhabited by a God-created soul, when he says, "In your providence you watched over my spirit."
Following out some of these germs of thought, I propose to show a few of the moral truths taught by Anatomy and Physiology, and their accordance with the Word of God.
To study man, both in a normal and in a diseased state, is the object for which you have come up to the various schools of Medicine, which make this city the greatest seat of medical science in the Western Hemisphere.
But you have not learned all of man, when you can count his bones and muscles, and nerves and arteries; when you can describe each organ and function; when you have mastered the doctrines of Pathology, and the principles which regulate man as a living, organized being. There are other aspects, other laws, other influences than those recorded in the books of Anatomy and Physiology — and to a few of these I wish to call your attention at this time, more, however, by way of planting in your minds a few seed-thoughts; which, under the cultivation of meditation and the dew of the Holy Spirit — shall bring forth perhaps, some future fruit, than from any expectation of immediate good, or any aim to cover the whole ground of man's moral relations to the Bible, and the Bible's author, God.
I shall give you no scientific discussions, and shall avoid as far as possible scientific terms — but shall seize on certain open and acknowledged facts in man's physical constitution, and let these speak, while I perform for them the office of an humble interpreter of their words, and demonstrator of their teachings.
The first and most apparent lesson which these sciences teach, is, that there is a God. The simple proposition which I lay down here, is this:
Order and adaptation evince intelligence, and the character of the intelligence rises in proportion to the combinations required, and the extent and perfection of the order.
On looking at a locomotive engine, you perceive at once that it is a machine, exhibiting order in the arrangement of its parts, and adaptation in the relations of the several parts among themselves, and of the whole, to the end designed; and you infer at once that it is the product of a high intelligence. Suppose I should undertake to prove that this engine was self-built; its several parts being first self-evolved out of certain atoms of wood and iron, which by a law inherent in themselves, assumed in process of time, without any superintending power, the forms of the fire-box, the boiler, the steam-engine, the cylinder, the driving-wheels — and that these various parts came fortuitously together, and lo! a steam-engine appears!
If this, by universal consent, would be deemed absurd — then is it less absurd to suppose that the human body was self-built, or only the highest development of molecular being? even though I might bolster up my assertion by the theory of Epicurus, which derived the whole universe, physical and intellectual, from the coming together by chance of certain self-created atoms.
If I should undertake to prove that a telegraphic battery was self-evolved out of a bar of iron, a coil of wire, a few cups of acid — which cups, wire, and magnet not only came together by chance, but were themselves self-produced — you would denounce me for a fool! Yet the spinal cord, with its membranous wrappings, and its thirty-one pairs of branching nerves, is an instrument of motory and sensorial power far beyond the magnet! The great nerve-centers, with their wonderful ganglionic mechanism, are magazines of forces far ahead of the most powerful galvanic battery. The continuous lines of nerves which spread like a network over the whole body, by their structure, their conductibility, their retention of impressions, and their peculiar registering power — are almost infinitely superior to the wires which stretch along the highways of the land, and whisper their electric words from a hundred telegraphic centers.
In order to give the crudest outline of the evidences of order and adaptation found in the human body, we must first sum up all its organs, then add the many functions of these organs, then the vast number of adjustments needed for the action of over six hundred muscles, and nearly two hundred and fifty bones, which alone have been estimated to furnish over one hundred thousand instances of design.
To these must be added the manifold mechanical, chemical, and vital forces requisite for the most common operations of life. To these, as numberless as they appear, must be added the various external conditions to which this body must be adapted in the ever-varying stages of life, from infancy to age, in all varieties of climate, soil, productions, employments, governments, diseases, and social conditions. And when multiplying these into each other, you have reached a number inconceivable to the human mind — you must yet add the proofs of design, furnished by the operations of conscience, the action of the will, the existence of an intellect, and the possession of a soul — each manifesting itself in endless variety through the body, to which each is perfectly adjusted, and by which only they could prove their existence.
When you can give the product of this sum, then, and not until then — can you complete the full evidence of design furnished by the anatomy and physiology of man.
And which is the most rational conclusion: that such a being, so framed, so endowed, came into existence by chance; or that it is the terminus of a long-ascending series of developments, ranging upward in natural order and sequence, from the lowest form of animal life emerging from the sea; so that, as Dr. Oken says, "man has not been created, but developed"?
Or, that other conclusion — that such a being . . .
could be fashioned only by a Divine architect,
could be vivified only by a Divine Spirit,
could be preserved only by a Divine protector,
could be governed only by a Divine lawgiver, and
could be designed only to illustrate the Divine glory.
One of the most eminent of England's living scholars, Dr. Whewell, has truly said, "There is one idea which the researches of the physiologist and the anatomist so constantly force upon him, that he cannot help assuming it as one of the guides of his knowledge. I mean the idea of a purpose, or as it is called in Aristotelian phrase, a final cause in the arrangement of the physical frame. This conviction prevails so steadily among anatomists that, even when the use of any part is altogether unknown, it is still taken for granted that it has some use. The development of this conviction, of a purpose in the parts of the body, of a function to which each portion of the organization is subservient, contributed greatly to the progress of Physiology."
The truth of these remarks is beautifully illustrated in the discovery of the circulation of the blood. "I remember," says the Hon. Robert Boyle, "that when I asked our famous Harvey, a little while before he died, what were the things which induced him to think of a circulation of the blood, he answered me, that when he took notice that the valves in the veins of so many parts of the body were so placed that they gave free passage to the blood towards the heart — but opposed the passage of the venous blood the contrary way — he was forced to think that so provident a cause, as nature had not placed so many valves without design; and no design seemed more probable than that, since the blood could not well, because of the interposing valves, be sent by the veins to the limbs — it should be sent through the arteries, and return through the veins whose valves did not oppose its course that way."
The argument for the being of a God from the laws of order and adaptation found in the body of man — is one of the most beautiful, powerful, all-pervading, and convincing which can be furnished by any organism. No wonder that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was converted from atheism by studying the exquisite formation of the human skeleton; or that Galen said, that in describing the anatomy of man, he was but composing a hymn to the Creator; for no one can study this master-piece of God's earthly work, without being constrained to say with the text, "Your hands shaped me and made me. Remember that you molded me like clay. Did you not clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews?" Or with the Psalmist: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made; great and marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows right well."
The second great truth taught by Anatomy and Physiology is, that man is a fallen being.
We cannot suppose for a moment that God made man imperfect — for this would imply either that God had not the wisdom, or the power, or the goodness, to make him perfect. That there was no lack of wisdom to devise a perfect being, is evident from the fact that every other work of God displays infinite wisdom. That there was no lack of power to make man perfect — is proved from the perfection which attaches to every other work of his hand. That there was no lack of goodness — is seen in the innumerable provisions of mercy and kindness which mark all the dealings of God with his animate creation.
God, therefore, made man perfect when he made him in his own image. But we do not see man now wearing that perfect image — it is defaced, soiled, broken. We see man only as an imperfect being. Sickness preys upon him, accidents assail him, infirmities possess him. Need I recall to you the manifold diseased conditions to which he is subject. What are your books of Pathology, what of the institutes of medicine — but the scientific record of the fact, that man is organically, functionally, and psychologically a fallen being!
There is no sickness in Heaven. There was no sickness in Eden. There will be none in the world of glory. Sickness, so far as we know — is confined to this world; and the solemn truth which it ever utters is — man is a fallen being. There is not an organ of the body which may not become the seat of disease! There is not a function which may not be deranged. This was not man's original state. Whence the change?
Physiology says that there is a change — but cannot tell its originating cause. Anatomy attests the fact — but its lips are silent as to its origin. Pathology, in its every page, confirms the truth — but puts its hand upon its mouth when called upon to assign its cause. It is not expected that they will state the cause of this fall — it is not in their province; they deal with facts; they are not expected to go within the secrets of the Most High God, and busy themselves with the truths of a moral revelation. We ask not that they should. All that we require of them is, that they attest the fact that man is not a perfect being. We call them to the witness-stand merely to testify to this one point; and having delivered their opinion on this subject — we shall seek elsewhere for the cause that solves the otherwise inexplicable problem.
There is one interesting fact, however, which is quite important to be noticed here. Physiologists and Pathologists are urgent in telling you that all disease is the result of some departure or breaking of the physical laws of our being. I would humbly lift the statement out of this physical element, and place it on what I conceive to be its true position, and say — all diseased conditions are the result of the violation of the moral laws of our being.
And I would substantiate my assertion, by the facts, open and notorious, that there is scarcely a disease or accident that can happen to man, that may not, directly or indirectly, be traced to the breaking of God's law — either in its requirement of love to Him, or love to man. There is scarcely a disease or accident which may not be said to result either from human passions, human ignorance, or human infirmities — and each of these is the sequence of moral disobedience. For did we love God supremely, there would be no uncurbed passions hurrying us into the exciting causes of sickness. Did we seek aright God's guidance, there would be no ignorance leading us blindfolded into disease. And had we perfect obedience to God, and perfect love to our fellow-men — we would have no infirmities of the flesh, or of the spirit, which, in their unrestrained action, produce such morbid results, and such calamitous outbreaks in man and in human society.
Not only do we find a perfect coincidence between "the universal reign of sin — and the coextensive prevalence of disease," but the Bible abounds with instances, showing that God most frequently punished moral evils by physical disease; that sickness was a recognized and appointed agent of God, whereby he visited his displeasure upon men, communities, and nations. When God delivered his ordinances to the children of Israel, he accompanied it with the threat, "But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant — then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life!" Leviticus 26:14-16
So, when the Levitical laws were recapitulated in the book of Deuteronomy, we observe that God linked with disobedience of them — grievous diseases. "The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, scurvy, and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The LORD will strike you with madness, blindness, and panic" summing up the catalogue with the words, "also, every sickness and every plague!"
When Miriam spoke against Moses, she was struck with leprosy white as snow. When Gehazi falsified his master to Naaman, the prophet declared that the leprosy of Naaman should cleave unto Gehazi and his house forever. When Uzziah, King of Judah, intruded himself into the temple to burn incense, the bright spot of the leper immediately appeared upon his forehead, and the priests thrust him out of the house of the Lord.
The sin . . .
of King Jeroboam was visited with paralysis of the arm;
of King Asa with elephantiasis;
of King Jehoram with incurable gastric disease;
of Elymas with blindness;
of King Herod with most loathsome sickness, for he was eaten up by worms and died, because, says the sacred writer, "He gave not God the glory."
Thus, God himself establishes a relationship between sin and disease, which proves to demonstration, that man is a fallen being; that but for sin — there would be no disease, so that the existence of disease is an everywhere present proof of the existence of human depravity.
A third religious truth, taught by Anatomy and Physiology is, that there are, in the human system, the seeds of death; which death was brought into the world by sin. Carpenter, the most learned of English Physiologists, remarks: "It seems inherent in the very nature of vital action that it can only be sustained during a limited period, by any organized body. The organized fabric, in fact, is at the same time the instrument whereby vital force is exercised, and the subject of its operation; and of this operation, decline is no less a constituent part than development, and death is its necessary sequence."
And a distinguished American Physiologist (Draper) declares, "that the whole science of Physiology is a commentary on the truth, that the condition of life is death." Paradoxical as this assertion of the learned Professor may seem, it is fully sustained by the facts of Physiology.
The fundamental components of the physical frame are cells. "It is by cells and their derivatives, that all the proper vital actions of the body are performed;" but it is a law of physiology "that the amount of vital action which can be performed by each living cell, has a definite limit, and when that certain point has been once reached, a diminution in the vital activity of the cell must ensue." Hence, there is a steady wasting away of all parts of the physical mechanism; there is no part of the human system exempt from this law of disintegration and repair; but the power to repair the perpetual wastage gradually ceases, and then the waste increases beyond the repair, and death supervenes.
What a striking, and I might almost say, scientific comment is this law of Physiology, on the original curse, pronounced on man in Eden. In appointing the tree of knowledge of good and evil to be the test of Adam's obedience, God said, "In the day you eat thereof — you shall surely die;" or as the Hebrew literally reads, "Dying you shall die." Death did not come upon Adam on the literal day on which he ate the forbidden fruit; on the contrary, he lived many hundred years afterwards; but on that day of disobedience, that day of man's ruin and man's curse — he became mortal; there was made by the same Power, which originally created him out of the dust, that change in his physical system, by which he was ever to bear about a dying life, by which a process of interstitial death was ever to be going on in his body; decline and death being stamped on each component tissue, be it a cell, a fibre, a membrane.
It has been strikingly remarked by one of your own most accomplished Professors (F. Gurney Smith), that "every movement of a muscle, every exercise of the brain, whether in thought or volition; in a word, every action that we perform — causes the death of some of the cells of the organ that performs it; so that, in truth, we die daily — in order that we may live."
And, though in many instances, this degenerating process is met and recompensed by the regenerative process of the vital power; yet, like a life-clock whose weights are hung to run for an appointed time, this regenerative power has its limit, and somatic death is but the sequence of long-continued molecular death, and thus the curse "Dying you shall die," had then, has now, and as long as sin reigns in the world — shall have, its full and physiological verification.
Thus it is, that man ever bears about him the seeds of death. Every cell in the human body, though seen only through the eye of the microscope, is a seed of death; and hence, all the tissues and organs of the body, made up of these countless cells — are but so many aggregates of death-seed, ripening with greater or less rapidity for the harvest of death, and the garner of the grave!
But whence comes this death? Here physical science is silent. And we must go to Scriptural Revelation for an answer. "By one man," says Paul, "sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, because all have sinned."
"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned!" Romans 5:12
Death, then, wherever we meet it, is the result of sin; and its sepulchral voice ever repeats, "Man has sinned!"
Every funeral knell — tolls the word sin.
Every stroke of the hammer that drives a nail into the coffin — strikes the sharp quick word sin.
Every passing hearse — rattles the word sin.
Every stroke of the chisel upon the gravestone — clicks the word sin.
Every burial service — tells of sin.
Sin is the one startling monosyllable which rings all day long, and all night long — like the cricket's monotone from every graveyard!
Sin is the one syllable which the great sea ever moans forth from its charnel depths!
Sin is the one fearful cry which dwells on the bloodless lips of the pestilence!
Sin is the one appalling shriek which rings louder than the cannon's roar on the field of blood!
There is not a day, an hour, a minute, a second of time — when Death as he hurls his dart into some victim's heart, does not shout the word, which tells the whole story of himself and his deeds, and that one word is "SIN!"
A fourth truth taught by the Anatomy and Physiology of the body, is that man is a being framed under law. These sciences show that there is no portion of the body which is not covered by a mechanical, chemical, or vital law. It reaches downwards to the first rudiments of man's embryonic existence, and manifests itself in the beautiful and all pervading law of cell-growth, and it stretches upward through all the convolutions of the brain as it fills the dome of thought, and becomes the dwelling-place of the God-breathed soul. Were it not so, man would be a chaos, which science could never reduce to order, and the medical art would be a mere guesswork, the drawing of a bow at a venture, a leap in the dark, where the landing-place might be firm footing — or might be the engulfing wave.
Even the diseases which assail us are regulated by law, and just in proportion as these laws are discovered and their working developed, does the science of Pathology approach perfection, and put into the hands of the Physician, the invaluable data by which he can apply his therapeutic agents and prognosticate results.
Furthermore, so entirely is man under these Physiological laws, that many of them operate upon him without his knowledge of their action, and entirely irrespective of his will. Sir Charles Bell truly says, that "if the vital actions of a man's frame were directed by his will — they are necessarily so minute and complicated, that they would immediately fall into confusion. Man cannot draw a breath without the exercise of sensibilities, as well ordered as those of the eye or ear. The action of his heart and the circulation of his blood and all the vital functions are governed through means and by laws, which are not dependent on his will, and to which the powers of his mind are altogether inadequate. For had they been under the influence of his will, a doubt, a moment's pause of irresolution, a forgetfulness of a single action at its appointed time — would have terminated his existence."
Man then, in each of his physical aspects, presents himself to us as a being under law. But "the natural and moral constitution and government of the world," as Bishop Butler well says, "are so connected as to make up together but one scheme, and it is highly probable that the natural is formed and carried on merely in subserviency to the latter, as the vegetable world is for the animal, and organized bodies for minds."
What this profound writer, reasoning solely on the analogies of nature, sets forth as highly probable, we know to be a fact. We know that man is a compound being of soul and body; that there is a mutual action and reaction of soul and body; that the laws which govern man's physical nature cannot, by their very nature, hold sway over the soul; that the soul exempt from physical law must be amenable to moral law, because it is a moral agent. And as soul and body make up one man, and as there cannot be two controlling and self-existent wills operating at the same time on the same being, demanding a divided fealty — so must we infer that there is but "one lawgiver;" that the lawgiver for man's physical nature is the lawgiver for his spiritual nature, and that this one lawgiver is God. We are, therefore, as amenable to God, as moral and accountable beings — as we are to him for our material organism and our functional agency.
And what is that moral law under which man is placed? Not one which man has made for himself; for he can no more make a moral law than he can a physical one. It must be the only moral law which has been given by the one lawgiver, and summed up in those compendious words of Jesus: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength — and your neighbor as yourself." A law covering not the outward conduct only — but reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart; a law which brands as sin, any lack of conformity to its full requisitions; a law which is the transcribed will of a Holy God; a law which is at once the rule of angels and archangels, and the six-winged cherubim about the throne — and man the creature on the footstool; a law which overarches two worlds in its provisions of love and holiness, and binds both in one covenant rainbow of promised bliss.
From this law you cannot free yourself; as well attempt to break the links in the law of gravitation — as free yourself from the moral law of your Creator. By this law, as a free moral being, you must live; by it, be judged; by it, be made either happy or miserable forever. And the only way by which you can fulfill this law is, not by any personal obedience — but by the substitutionary obedience of one who, "though in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God — but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant" in order that he might . . .
stand in our place,
bear our curse,
obey for us the broken law, and
by his own infinite merits and his own precious blood-shedding — obtain a free pardon and a perfect righteousness, both of which are made ours by faith in Him.
And thus, though of ourselves we cannot obey the law, yet we do "magnify it and make it honorable" through Christ. Though of ourselves we have no merits, we are "accounted as righteous" before God, through the merits of our Divine substitute. Though of ourselves we could never secure pardon — we are freely pardoned through the precious blood-shedding of our glorious Savior. And thus, through another's pains, another's merits, another's death — we, by faith in him, are, put in full possession of all the blessings purchased by his spotless life and his sacrificial death; and those blessings are summed up in the words: Eternal life and bliss at God's right hand.
Again, the provisions of God for the reparation and regeneration of wasted and diseased tissues, which are made known to us by Anatomy and Physiology — typify the higher law of man's spiritual regeneration.
Every physiologist will point out to you these reparative laws inherent in the human body, and will explain their merciful nature and wise adjustments. They will tell you that nature is ever striving to . . .
perfect that which is lacking,
heal that which is diseased,
remove that which is worn out, and
give back form and color to that which has lost its original beauty.
Few studies are more interesting or give us better insight into some of the attributes of God, than this. Upon the laws which regulate recuperative action, is based the art of medicine; for the physician's part is not to effect himself the healing — but only . . .
to aid nature,
to prevent foreign interference,
to stimulate tardy processes,
to adjust related parts,
to supply required material, and then
to watch the restorative process, until health rewards his toil. Now this whole process, so beautiful, so effective, so infinitely wise and good — is but the physical expression of a high moral law; and by it God would show to men that there is healing and regeneration for his diseased and fallen soul.
That this is so, is evident from two remarkable facts. First, That sin is most usually represented in the Bible under the similitude of disease. Now this is not by accident — but by design; not as figures of rhetoric merely — but ordained to be most expressive types.
When God would give the Israelites some visible picture of the loathsomeness and destructiveness of sin — he selected the disease of leprosy — the most fearful of all the maladies which afflict our race — and ordained it as the standing type of uncleanness and separation throughout the camp of Israel.
When he would typify error — he uses blindness as an emblem of mental darkness.
When he would typify indifference to warning — he chooses deafness, whereby the ear refuses to hear the voice of reason.
When he would typify the corrodings of conscience — it is by a scorching fever, emphatically called "the arrows of the Almighty, which drink up the Spirit."
When he would typify the loss of moral strength — it is by paralysis, unnerving the limb and shrivelling the muscle.
When he would typify the gradual wasting process of sin — it is by consumption, when "one's flesh is consumed away that it cannot be seen, and his bones, that were not seen, stick out.
And when God would express total depravity — he does it in these medical words: "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it — but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores! They have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."
Thus, there is not a phase of moral disease which does not find its counterpart in some form of physical malady.
The other remarkable fact to which I alluded in this connection is this: that Jesus Christ, who came to save the soul, constantly stands before us in a medical character, as the Great Physician. When Christ came, he came as prophecy said he would — as a healer of disease; so that through his cure of earthly maladies — he might show his higher power to cure the sin-sick soul. It is interesting to mark, that the diseases which our Lord specially healed (though he cured all who came to him), yet those which appear most frequently on the pages of Scripture, represented the inner state of man; and that what he wrought in the body found its true significance, only as seen in the light of those deeper diseases of the soul — whose wants and woes were faintly shadowed out by the pains and sicknesses of daily life.
There were four marked classes of disease upon which our Lord mostly exerted his healing power, namely:
Leprosy, which indicated moral uncleanness;
Insanity, including the whole list of demoniacal possessions which evidenced the loss of a holy and controlling will;
Paralysis, which represented moral helplessness; and
Blindness, which typified spiritual darkness.
What man most needed, was light from Heaven. How could Christ better show himself as the true "light of the world" — than by pouring the light of day into the eyes of the blind.
Man needed some aid outside of himself to help him in his state of moral impotence. And how better could Christ display himself as "the Lord and giver of might," than by bidding . . .
the withered hand — to be whole,
the paralyzed — to arise, and
the impotent man — to take up his bed and walk?
Man needed some guiding moral power to his mind, so that it should not be foraged upon by the spirits of evil, and be the camping-ground of error; and how better could Christ show himself "the truth," that which the mind ever felt after — but felt in vain; than by dispossessing the demoniacs, and causing the once furious and lunatic victims, to sit at his feet clothed and in their right mind?
Above all, man needed moral cleansing. Pollution, inborn and inbred, reigned within, and he was a walking Lazarus, with "no soundness in him." And how better could Christ show his power to purge and purify the soul, and give it spiritual health — than by healing those who were full of leprosy in the startling words, "I will — be clean!"
Having then taught us these great lessons by his own miraculous works on the bodies of men, and made his physical cures the credentials of his power to heal the evils of the soul — He now, though absent from us, repeats the teaching through the diseases which everywhere tell of sin, and the recuperative agencies which also tell of relief and cure.
Thus, while sickness speaks of our fall; and the struggles which the diseased organ or tissue makes towards reparation — tell of man's yearning after a moral restoration; so the provisions tell of a wide-spread remedies; and the exact adaptation of its agents, to the necessities of the sick — producing cure by something found without, and applied from without — point to a redeemer from sin and to soul-remedials, outside of and distinct from ourselves — to one who, in his office, as healer of the bodies, illustrated to our senses his higher character as a restorer of the soul — to one who brings from without, the medicine that is to heal our sickness — to one who superintends himself the whole economy of reparation — named on earth Jesus or Savior, because "He saves his people from their sins." That is, the one named in Heaven, "the Prince of life," because the healing he bestows is eternal life; and the results of that cure are the endless joys of that land, "the inhabitant of which shall never say, I am sick," for in that land there "shall be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more sighing, for the former things are passed away, and God shall wipe all tears from our eyes."
The soul has no natural remedies — it is in ruins, and has no more power to repair its losses, than has the statue of a Phidias to replace a broken arm, or restore the lineaments of its defaced beauty. Hence, we must go outside of ourselves, if we would be made whole — we must go to Jesus, the great physician, and use the curatives he prescribes: "repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." And when, renouncing all trust in ourselves, and the panaceas of a vain philosophy, and all the prescriptions of those moral charlatans, who promise you salvation on other terms than those laid down in the Bible — you go direct to Christ, not stopping to relieve your blindness a little, to remove your leprosy a little, to heal your palsy a little, before you go — but go, just as you are —
as blind as Bartimeus;
as full of leprosy as Naaman;
as helpless as the Bethesda Paralytic;
as spiritually beside yourself as the Demoniac of Gadara
— go, just as you are, having no plea but Christ's merits, and your need; and the Savior . . .
who said to the blind, "receive your sight" — and they saw;
who commanded the paralyzed to "rise" — and he walked;
who willed the healing of the leper — and "he was clean;"
who bade depart the legion spirits from the demoniac — and he was restored to his right mind
— will speak the word of healing to you, and say, as he said of old, "Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven — go in peace!"
Among many other interesting truths taught by the Anatomy and Physiology of man, I can mention but one more, and that is, they teach us that man has a soul.
In examining the human form, we find that it consists of a number of perfectly distinct organs and mechanisms, each marvelous in itself and each united to others, and all bound into one body by a nervous system, which, found in every part, controls every part, and makes each do the bidding of the common sensorium, the brain.
We find also that it is a physiological law that no organ or function is self-acting; it must be set in action by influences outside of itself.
The lungs, perfect in their pneumatic apparatus, cannot act without air;
the bones, constructed and arranged on the finest principles of mechanics cannot act as levers and supports without muscular contraction;
the heart, admirable in its hydraulic properties, cannot pulsate without blood.
The optic nerve must be excited by light;
and the ear, with its wonderful acoustic principles, hears only as the delicate organs are stimulated by sound.
But, when we come to the brain we find no more self-acting power there than in the organs named; its structure is merely automatic; it can display no phenomena of itself; it requires an agent outside of itself to excite its action — just as much as the lungs air, the eye light, or the ear sound. And now the question arises: What is that agent? We answer boldly, the immortal soul! But whence, and what is, this soul?
Shall we say with the most recent and refined form of materialism, that "mind is a subtle product evolved out of matter, and destined to an endless existence."
Shall we say, "that the mind is the consequence or product of the material man; that it is not a thing having a seat or home in the brain — but the manifest or expression of the brain in action, as heat and light are of fire, and fragrance of the flower."
With Hartley, shall we say that "the mind a vibration of the fibers of the brain." With Hooke, shall we say that "there is a matter in the brain intended to receive the impressions of sound, which may be compared to the bells and vases which Vitruvius describes as being placed in the ancient theaters, and that thinking is the radiation of the soul from one part of the brain to another." Or shall we say with some of the French philosophers, that "as the stomach secretes bile — so does the brain secrete thought."
Take any one of these, or any one of the many propositions which would set aside the doctrine of a God-created soul, immaterial and immortal, yet acting through a material and mortal organism — and you involve yourselves in doubt, perplexity, and sorrow. You must explain things which are inexplicable; you must assume premises which are not assumable; you must draw conclusions which are not logical; you must work upon hypotheses which are the wildest conjectures of prating sceptics, and commit yourselves to the guidance of men whose first labor is to quench the light of the Bible, and then, by means of the flitting light of a decomposing philosophy — explore the region of the soul, and seek to transmute its ethereal powers into atomic particles and ever-changing organisms.
As well might you expect to gain a knowledge of the Physiology of the eye or the ear, by first setting aside the whole science of optics and acoustics, and proceed in your studies with the expectation of finding the source of light in the retina, and the source of sound in the tympanum — and reason thence, that light and sound are but evolutions of the optic and auditive nerves — as to study the Physiology of man by first ignoring the soul as a distinct existence; and then, because you find the instrument of thought, sensation, emotion — say that these instruments are so many parts of the mind, and that this mind is nothing more than the sensory ganglia of the cerebrum, receiving to itself, as a common sensorium, the influences from a thousand nerve-centers, and sending out from it, reflex sensations, along the whole nerve-tract of the human system.
Now each of these truths which the Anatomy and Physiology of man dimly shadow forth — but which our own consciousness tells us are the great facts of the moral being — the Bible fully unfolds. Where we need light — it gives light; where we need certainty — it gives certainty; where we seek for guidance — it takes us by the hand and guides our feet into the paths of Peace.
The Bible tells us that God did make man's body of the dust; that His hands took pains in his construction; that He clothed him with skin and flesh, and fenced him with bones and sinews.
The Bible tells us that man is a fallen being; that "God made man upright — but that he sought out many inventions;" that "they have all gone out of the way; that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
The Bible tells us that man has in him the seeds of death; that "He comes up and is cut down like a flower, he flees as a shadow, and never continues;" that the irreversible decree of God is, "Dust you are — and unto dust shall you return."
The Bible tells us that man is a being under moral law; that this is a perfect, holy, just, and good law; that all men, as the creatures of God, are under the law of God, for He rules among the armies of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of Earth; that this law is written in the hearts and consciences of men, as well as in the broad code of the two tables — or the broader interpretation of that code, in the Gospel of Christ.
The Bible tells us that man has a soul, breathed into him by the breath of God, and endowed with immortality; a soul, capable of vast expansion, vast comprehension, vast enjoyment — and which shall forever dwell in eternal woe, or rise to eternal bliss in Heaven.
The Bible tells us that there is reparation for our diseased and sin-prostrated souls:
that "there is balm in Gilead, and a physician there;"
that Jesus "waits to be gracious;"
that he invites us to receive the healing which he offers;
that his cures never fail; that his power never wearies;
that his grace is never lacking;
that his language to the sin-sick in heart is, "Behold I will bring it health and cure, I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth."
Thus beautifully accord the teachings of Anatomy and Physiology and the truths of God's holy Word. It is only lately, indeed, that these sciences have given out such utterances; or rather, it is only lately that they have been noticed and interpreted, for uttered they have ever been, though the dull ear heard not their sound, and the bleary eye saw not their type.
There is yet, however, one point to which I wish to carry your thoughts — but which lies outside the province of physical science. But though not within the purview of Anatomy and Physiology, they yet point to it. I mean the glorified body which shall enrobe the soul in Heaven. That the soul shall have an embodied existence there; that it shall have a personal identity and corporate manifestation — the Bible fully declares. What its real nature will be — we know not. It will not be formed of the component elements of our present bodies, for Paul declares, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." It will not be fashioned of materials needing nutrition and reparation, for "it shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more." It shall not be subjected to the wearing processes of sickness and sorrow, for it shall never suffer pain, never weep a tear, and "sorrow and sighing shall forever flee away."
It is not a body of dust, to be again resolved into dust, for though "sown" in the grave "in corruption" — it will be "raised in incorruption," and "this corruptible shall put on incorruption."
It is not a natural or a terrestrial body — but a spiritual and celestial body, made like unto Christ's glorified body, the body of his resurrection, the body of his ascension, the body which he even now wears at the right hand of God. But who shall describe that body? Who shall analyze its elements? Who shall tell its functions? Who shall reveal its laws of being? Like the disciples on the Mount of Ascension — we can gaze up into Heaven, looking intently after the ascending body of him who has gone up there — but a cloud receives him out of our sight, and we come down from the mount with strained eyeballs and aching hearts!
Yet, we know this much, that our "bodies shall be fashioned like unto Jesus' glorious body." That, though "it does not yet appear what we shall be, we know that when Christ shall appear — we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." That "this mortal shall put on immortality," and that planted with Jesus "in the likeness of his death — we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."
"Thus, as the simplest organism of animals points, by its structure, upward to man — so man's earthly frame points to his heavenly frame, and his heavenly frame to Christ's spiritual body, and we see that all animated things on earth, point onward to Christ's glorified humanity, as the grand archetype of all that has life."
The bodies which you now bear about with you, must soon die. Your healing arts cannot destroy death — they can only prolong, for a little while, a dying life. But the soul, which inhabits your body, shall not die — it "shall return to God, who gave it."
Would we, however, rise from the grave with a glorified body, made like unto Christ's body — it can only be . . .
by having our "life hidden with Christ;"
by having our hearts linked with his, by a living faith;
by having our natures renewed by the Holy Spirit;
by having our sins washed away in atoning blood;
by having our souls arrayed in Christ's spotless righteousness;
by having Christ "formed within us the hope of glory."
And thus pardoned, repentant, and believing — we shall rise to newness of life; and these vile bodies, these bodies of our fall, these bodies of dust and breath "shall be changed, and made like unto his own glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself" — and "so shall we be forever with the Lord."
Young gentlemen, I have thrown out these thoughts more by way of suggestion than amplification, and wish them to lie in your minds as seed-thoughts, which may perhaps, by and by, ripen into goodly fruit.
Engrossed, as you are, in your study of second causes, you are in great danger of forgetting the first great cause; and though there is no created being on earth who centers in himself so many proofs of Divine wisdom, power, goodness, and truth — as man; and hence, none who so loudly proclaims the being and attributes of God — yet, because you are engaged in searching out physical relations and functions, for the purpose of applying to them the lessons of Pathology, the directions of Therapeutics, and the remedies of modern medicine — you are tempted to stop short of the higher teachings of Anatomy and Physiology, or repudiate them altogether. Remember the weighty words of Lord Bacon: "A little Philosophy inclines men's minds to atheism — but depth in Philosophy brings men's minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looks upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther — but, when it beholds the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity."
It was because I felt the full force of this profound remark, that I wished to bring before you, in connection with your daily studies, higher thoughts than you learn in the schools — and more sacred teachings than you find in your text-books. I wished you to feel that when you had studied man as a material being, you had studied only the outside of that structure which God built for the dwelling and temple of the soul; that you can know man aright only as you know his moral relations — as you know his present position in the scale of being, as you know his future destiny. And that this knowledge, this highest of all sciences, this most needed of all acquirements — can be learned only in the Word of God.
It is, however, pleasant to know that the more perfect a science becomes — the more it accords with the Bible. In the youth of every science, there is a period when, like the prodigal in the parable — it leaves its father's house, and goes into a far country and wastes its substance in skeptical babbling. But before long, it tires of its husks and its exile, and growing wiser and more reflective — it comes back and asks to be received "as a hired servant" of the God of knowledge. And the God of knowledge, honoring a science which honors him — puts upon it the tokens of a father's love, and permits it to minister before him.
And though a surly scepticism, like an "elder son," shall become angry, and refuse to go into the house of wisdom — yet, neither the taunts of infidelity nor the scoffs of the profane, shall hush one note of that song of gladness which religion shall yet sing over every returning science as it comes back to its father's house. "This my son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found!"
And what a beautiful ministry will that be, when the great sciences of earth shall come like the twelve Apostles of nature — to worship and kneel before him "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!" For come they assuredly will. Nothing is more clearly discerned by the observant eye, than the fact that, every step which science takes in advance, is a step towards Scriptural revelation; and this must of necessity be so, for as science is but knowledge, as all human knowledge is confined to God's works, so must a deeper knowledge of God's works become more accordant with God's words, for they have one author — the God of truth.
It is only a shallow science — which babbles because it is shallow, which talks with braggart tongue against the Bible. It is only a vain philosophy, puffed up with its own windiness — which rails at the religion of Jesus. It is only the would-be wise men, with a smattering of scientific terms upon their lips, and real ignorance in their minds — who lift up their vaunting voice in the exclamation of a heathen king, "Who is the Lord that I should serve him? I know not the Lord — neither will I obey his voice."
Beware of all these. They are dangerous, not from their knowledge — but from their pertness, their profanity, their folly! For if you once begin the career of the scorner, and go on in the way of the skeptic — you put in peril every interest of mind, and body, and soul, for time and for eternity. For as that black magnetic mountain which we read of in Arabian story, drew out by its irresistible attractions the iron bolts which held together the strong timbers of the gallant frigate, which seemed to float securely on the distant wave, until one fastening after another being loosened, the whole ship fell apart a disjointed wreck — so the black magnetic mountain of infidelity exerts its irresistible influence upon all who come within the sphere of its attraction, and though you may seem to be some distance off — yet its effects are soon apparent in the loosening of the bolts and fastenings of your moral frame, in the drawing out one by one, the clamps of virtue, until what was the form of a once stately character — falls away piece by piece, and you lie a helpless wreck off life's surging sea!
Rather let it be your aim to sit at the feet of Jesus, and be taught of him. For as "in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" — so the student of Christ . . .
drinks from no distant and turbid stream — but from the living well-spring;
and is taught by no false philosophers — but by Incarnate truth;
and is led into no alienation from God — but brought into living sonship to Jehovah;
and is made wise not in the imperfect science of earth — but in that knowledge which makes wise unto salvation.
And when you attain to this wisdom, you shall then find that . . .
the noblest knowledge is to know God;
the noblest wisdom is to revere him;
the noblest gift is to love him;
the noblest art is to glorify him, and
the noblest ambition is to grow up into the Divine likeness, and receive, through the operation of a living faith — that sonship by which you became "an heir of God, and a joint heir with Jesus Christ — to an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance in Heaven!